Super Eagles former goalkeeper trainer and assistant coach Joe Erico has died at the age of 72.
Erico, nicknamed ‘Jogo Bonito’, passed away on Tuesday morning in Lagos surrounded by his family, after a brief illness.
A close family member Tomiwa Aghedo confirmed to Goal that the country’s coaching icon gave up the ghost after complaining of stomach ache.
“I feel sad informing you that coach Joe Erico passed on this morning [Tuesday],” Aghedo told Goal.
“He complained of stomach ache yesterday and he was subsequently rushed to the hospital, where he was told to present his Covid-19 test result before he would be attended to.
“Coach Erico went for the test as directed and very early this morning he passed away. It’s terrible news at this point in time and every one of us is devasted.
“We are consoled by the fact that he served Nigeria with all his strength and he lived a good life worthy of emulation.”
Erico began his football career with the Nigerian Police Force, NEPA, Nigeria Railways, Electricity Connectors of Nigeria and Julius Berger – where he won several diadems.
He was also in goal for Nigeria in the 1976 Africa Cup of Nations staged in Ethiopia.
Erico managed his boyhood club Julius Berger years after ending his international career as a goalkeeper.
He was also part of the coaching crew that qualified the Nigeria U23 squad for the Sydney 2000 Olympics. But he was fired on the eve of the competition.
He went returned to the Super Eagles as an assistant to head coach Amodu Shuaibu. And alongside Stephen Keshi and Amodu, he helped the Nigerian senior qualify for the 2002 World Cup staged in South Korea and Japan.
But he was fired again by the NFF after the country placed third at the 2002 Afcon in Mali.
Coach Erico is survived by his wife and four children. His burial arrangements will be announced in the coming days.